Dear NHL, Keep Hockey In Mind

The NHL has seen a lot of great rule changes over the years. Most of these rule changes have been implemented to accommodate the casual fan, as they emphasis on more scoring has been put into place. Rule changes such as the trapezoid, the discarding of the ‘two line pass’ (most ridiculous rule ever), and of course, the addition of the shootout.
These were rule all implemented to create a more fan friendly product, and while some may dispute one, or another, for the most part, the ramifications these rules have put into place has been for the better. Most recently, the NHL took it a step further, and claimed overtime periods would now be 3 on 3 (pond hockey). For those that haven’t had the pleasure of watching a 3 on 3 OT period yet, put it on your ‘to do list,’ as there are really no words that can describe the high energy it packs into a short 5 minute span. Here’s a quick sample of what you are likely to witness in a 3 on 3 NHL overtime period.

Why are these rules great for the game? These rules above were created with hockey in mind. There was nothing more to it. The league wanted more goals, so they eliminated the two line pass rule (iterated again, thank, God). They eliminated the trapezoid specifically so the goaltender couldn’t act as a third defensemen behind the net, thus allowing a team to setup an offensive attack to a much easier degree. The shootout was created to prevent ties, and the 3 on 3 was to prevent games from always going to a shootout, again, concrete, hockey related reasons as to why the NHL implemented these rules.

Now we get to 2017/18, and the NHL has been persistent on the addition of more rules to ‘appease fans.’ The most infamous rule would have to be the way coaches now have the ability to challenge an offside (yes, an offside). It’s one thing to have the ability to challenge a goal, or maybe even goaltender’s interference, but an offside?

The quick, fast paced game is halted for minutes while officials review the initial play as the puck enters the zone. Keep in mind, this potential ‘offside’ could have happened minutes beforehand if the attacking team say, was on a power play, but it’s still allowed to be challenged whenever play is stopped.

Why was this rule implemented? Well, if we had to guess, perhaps to extend games a few extra minutes, and give a few more advertisers more opportunity. Hmmm… Doesn’t seem very hockey correlated.

Moving on past the ridiculous new replay rules, which by the way, have impacted numerous teams to a degree the league wasn’t quite hoping for. The league now is looking at expansion, as the original reason the East was given 16 teams, compared to the West’s 14 during the realignment told hockey fans expect two more Western conference teams in the near future (enter Las Vegas, and soon to be, Seattle).

The NHL believes they can operate 32 teams (such as the NFL), and keep all teams profitable. Well hold up, right now they have 30, and one was just forced to be sold (Carolina Hurricanes), one doesn’t have a fanbase, and at one time was owned by the NHL (Phoenix Coyotes), and another didn’t have a home arena until recent Belmont arena deal was reached in NY (New York Islanders). These are only the three most highlighted scenarios, as one couldn’t imagine two hockey teams in Florida is a stellar, and thriving business model.

The league looks like they ‘broke the ice’ by bringing a team to Vegas, and because the expansion draft was setup the way it was, the Golden Knights (NOT the US Army, the hockey team… A beyond ridiculous story) will likely be the best expansion team ever assembled.

Seattle is the likely final expansion team, and with the dedicated fanbase they hold in other sports (they sellout MLS games, yes, MLS games), I imagine the NHL franchise will also see success (particularly if the NHL sets up an expansion draft similar to Vegas’).

Meanwhile, you have talk of another expansion team in Kansas City (should have been the Islanders), a second team in Toronto (why?), a team returning to Quebec (not happening, the Winnipeg relocation spoiled that), and for some reason the NHL is still dead-set on keeping a hockey team in southern Arizona (don’t ask, we don’t know why either).

With all of this going on with your current participants, you think its the ideal time to expand? The expansion will make the NHL the second North American Professional sports league with 32 teams, joining the NFL (just a slightly bigger audience). Even a thriving NBA, or the MLB is not interested in surpassing 30 teams at the moment, yet the NHL is simply ignoring that fact, and being naive enough to think all 32 teams can operate without any type of hiccup. Obviously, expansion/relocation are business decisions, meaning, they aren’t hockey correlated.

So we wrap up this article by reinforcing that the NHL needs to stick with what they know, hockey. It seems as if every time a rule pertaining the game of hockey itself is put in place, it makes the league better, and from an overall standpoint, the fans happier.

However, when the NHL starts making decisions, and rules based off of ‘business,’ the said implantation seems to backfire. What are we learning here folks? Stick to hockey, NHL.

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